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They say, 'You fit in,
You are fair,
You speak the language
Why don't you go and live there?
You are one of them.'

Yes I am one of them

Pickled herring on black bread
Black pudding, forest berries
Red shoes, red hem
Bogs and spirits
Songs with melancholy lyrics
Tales that cut me deep
And make me weep
I could live there.


I am but a visitor.
Every time the plane lands
All looks fair
I feel like one of them.
Yet I do not share their story
Of war, occupation, fear
I have not been there.


It died once,
And all was grey
An empire of blood stormed and took it
But 'There' has been revived
Been repainted
Peace in its walls, sky again blue,
Made new
Yet a stranger has lived in this house
While I could not
I see it in the dew.


'There' was the ancestors' birthplace
Various lives lived, passed
I have just chanced in passing.
'There' had been a shadow of a parting
Of no return
But I am not in a hurry.
I have sat with those left
Heard of talk and laughter
Truths return in and out of favour
Will I cling to them, dwell on it, covet it?
It catches my breath
For I was not there.


My life took a parallel road
That plies a different route
I shall never want to take the other road
For it is criss-crossed with shadows.
There is no gilded frame
In which to hang my picture
I am, and yet I am not, one of them.


Anu Mihkelson


Melbourne, Australia
(Author of 'Three Suitcases and a Three Year Old’, and ’The View from Here')


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